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If You Are Unhappy With a Relationship, Quitting Should Always Be an Option.

Sometimes, Quitters Do Win.

We waste too much time in relationships that make us unhappy. The main reason for this is our insecurity and our fear of being alone. I urge you to consider quitting as an option for any relationship that is not bringing something positive to your life.

Always consider quitting as an option in any relationship that fails to bring you happiness because there are plenty of other wonderful things that will bring you happiness. Plenty of other relationships, plenty of other people, and plenty of other things to engage in other than a relationship.

“Losing will not always amount to a loss, sometimes you have to lose those toxic relationships and bad habits to create a space for better things.” 
― Gift Gugu Mona

Plenty of Fish (Not the Dating Site. Well actually…)

We’ve all heard that saying after a breakup that there’s plenty of other fish in the sea. That is absolutely true. But it should be restated as there’s plenty of other great fish in the sea, and if you can’t find one then the problem is you, and maybe you might find something better to do than fishing for a little while.

One of the saddest laments I’ve ever heard is when people think they’ll never find someone as great as the person that just dumped them. Bullshit. They just dumped you! I hope that’s not what you think makes them so great.

No. In fact, there are tons of people for you to have a great romantic relationship with. I know this because I’ve dated a lot of people. They weren’t all keepers. They weren’t all someone I would marry, but a great many were enjoyable people that I had great experiences with. And more than a couple were marriage material.

Part of it is a numbers game. The more people you meet the more opportunities you have to meet great people. You won’t connect with anyone at home alone. Guaranteed. Sure, you can “meet” over the internet, but you can only connect in person.

Of course, I encourage you to use the internet to meet plenty of people. That’s the best part about online dating. It’s fast, easy and puts you in touch with plenty of other people that want to date. If anything, it should remind you that there are always other people out there in the world looking for love.

Just be open to opportunities. Get out in public and chat and interact with people. Meeting people that you want to date is a matter of time and putting yourself out there. It will inevitably happen if you want it to.

Don’t Stay Due to Irrational Beliefs

After my divorce, I continued to try and save my relationship with my ex-wife. Shut up. Yes, that was foolish. Where were you when I needed your advice? Anyway, I tried and tried because I believed that this was the one person for me and because I wanted the first person I fell in love with to be the last one as well.

Oh my god, I wasted so much time, energy and self-respect based on those foolish beliefs. There simply is no one person for you. That’s a lie. It’s a myth. It’s bullshit. It’s something you’ve been told your whole life and you’ve accepted it unquestioningly. Just like I did. It simply is not true.

There’s no doubt that we get along better with some people than others. That does not mean that there is only one person for you to have a romantic relationship with.

The other reason I continued to flail away at saving an already ended marriage was the foolish belief that I should make it work out because this was the first person I truly loved.

Part of that thinking is an investment mentality. I’ve invested all this time in this person so I should see it through, right? Entwined in that thinking is the fact that we used to be so good together so surely we can get back to that, right?

All of that has a smidgen of sense to it. It all sounds sensible. And in the right circumstances, it might be correct, but you also have to remember that your brain is begging for comfort. It wants nothing more than to avoid conflict, have things easy and not engage in any deep thought. It’s true.

In short, it vomits easy solutions for you that will make you happy in the moment. And we want to accept those easy solutions. We are dying to accept them. It’s called confirmation bias. But in fact, they aren’t solutions at all. They are band-aids. Crutches.

So what that this was the first person I ever loved. It had to be someone. That didn’t make it mandatory for me to stay with this person, especially when I wasn’t happy. There’s no rule that makes it mandatory to stay with someone, for any reason. At least not in this country.

And yes, we had been happy previously, but that was a long time ago. If the good times were recoverable they would have recovered already. Unfortunately, things and people change and sometimes it’s permanent. Even if it isn’t permanent life is short and there is no time to waste waiting for things to change.

It’s hard to believe in your teens and 20's but you are going to meet hundreds, even thousands of people. People are going to constantly come and go in your life. Even people you want to hold onto. Accept this and let people go easily that don’t meet your expectations. There will be plenty more that will live up to your reasonable standards. Reasonable is italicized for a reason.

“If someone keeps bringing you down, perhaps it’s time to get up and leave.” 
― Karen Salmansohn

Life is Short

More than anything that’s what I want to impart to you. That life is sooooooo short. The older you get the faster it seems to go by. As you get older you start to realize that your time here is finite. It will end. You start to put a premium on getting things right in all aspects of your life. Or you give up. Or you stay confused.

I’m urging you to start realizing NOW that things are finite and that life will end. Spend zero of it voluntarily unhappy. It’s an ironclad fact that most of our unhappiness stems from the relationships that we have with others.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that our relationships could be our greatest source of happiness? Of course, it does. But only if we are in a good relationship with someone we enjoy and that makes us happy.

So take stock of your relationships. Friends, family, lovers, business partners, hookups. Truly examine them to see if they are bringing you the happiness that you want and deserve. If they are not, consider quitting them. There is no good reason for sticking with a relationship that makes you unhappy. Quit and move on.

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A Word of Caution — Time to Self-Examine

However, look at your own role in the relationship. If you are constantly unhappy in your relationships the problem could be you. I know that’s absolutely impossible for some people to believe, but I don’t care how those people end up.

No, I’m reaching out to those of you that understand that every relationship requires effort by both people in the relationship. Constant effort. Even … daily effort! Horror of horrors! If that’s too much for you then stay single and don’t waste other people’s time faking it through a relationship. Relationships are give and take affairs. Especially on holidays.

Additionally, not everything will be perfect. If your other half is usually late for everything in the first 3 months of your relationship odds are they will be late to everything for the rest of that relationship.

So you have to make up your mind what’s a deal breaker and what’s merely an annoyance you can live with. Trust me, every single person you meet has some trait, characteristic, or habit that, given time, will make you want to strangle them at some point. That doesn’t mean you dump the person. Perhaps just slap.

I once dated a woman that stopped to look at herself every time she saw a mirror, glass, toaster, or anything that would reflect back to her that lovely appearance. Gag-worthy yes, but short of dump city. Just.

Also, you must communicate your wants and needs to your partner. No, they “should” not already know what you want. Sorry, but it’s true. Don’t shoot the messenger.

People’s minds are filled with all kinds of nonsense. Isn’t yours? Sometimes they aren’t giving you what you want because they have problems that are occupying their mind.

That’s right! No seriously, your partner has problems too. Obligations, concerns, worries, hassles, issues, frets, fears, an ego, and emotions. Just like you! Excuse them if they occasionally get caught up in those. You won’t know if you don’t ask, so ask.

And when you want something ask your partner for it. Yep. Sit ’em down and have a chat and express your wants and needs. Firmly, directly, but politely. Simple as that.

If you suck at communication, then you better improve, or all of your relationships will run aground eventually. Not kidding. Yes, confrontation or discussion of tricky and sticky topics is uncomfortable. It makes you sweat and just feel weird all over. But it gets easier the more you do it and you get nowhere without it.

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Excuses and Other Considerations

As I said, the main reason people stick in unhappy relationships is because of insecurity and fear of being alone. Some people just absolutely abhor the feeling of being alone. Of not having someone, anyone, to be in their presence.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh

I think it’s pathetic but I’ve been there so I understand. I will admit to patheticness. I’m here to tell you that like all other fears this one is also irrational. More importantly, like all emotions, fear passes. It eventually goes away. You do get used to being alone, and you even come to like it. Faster than you think. It’s healthy to be able to be alone and be happy doing it.

Sometimes it hurts a great deal to be alone. Absolutely. No doubt about it. But aren’t you also in pain being in a terrible relationship? Doesn’t that suck every day? Doesn’t that make you feel alone? Of course, it does.

“It is better to be alone than in bad company.”
George Washington

The great thing about being alone is that the pain of it eventually subsides. As I said, you get used it. You rarely get used to being unhappy in a relationship. It’s like herpes; the irritation always comes back. Or so I’ve heard.

Some people actually feel they don’t deserve better than what they currently have. Having a well-endowed ego prevents me from fully relating to these people but my God who cares whether you “deserve” it. If it sucks leave. I don’t deserve to be paid for my writing but I’m sure enjoying my clearance shopping with the meager earnings.

Some people simply lack imagination and deserve the hell they place themselves in. If you only knew the many and varied wonderful things you could be doing with your life instead of being in a relationship you might not even be in another one!!

Ok, perhaps that’s a bit much. The best things in life are shared with someone else, in my opinion, but there’s so much value in being alone. You literally can do anything you want in life. So why not get out of that shitty relationship and go do those things? It’s a perfect time.

There’s More to Life Than Dating (No, Really)

If you are in debt why not go work a second job instead of hanging out with that loser that did less than zero for you on Valentine’s Day. Start that internet business you’ve always dreamed of. Take that vacation to Europe, or Asia, or even fucking North Dakota, you’ve always fantasized about. Yes, do the cliché eat pray love crap.

Reconnect with family and friends. Just hang with the boys or girls for a while. If you must have relations with the opposite sex just go out on some light dates and spend a lot of time talking. And date lots of people. By doing this you learn exactly what you want in a permanent partner while obviously learning a great deal about yourself.

Read the rest of the self-help, err … personal development literature on Medium and start actually putting it into practice. God knows there’s plenty of it. Some of it is even good.

There’s always more time for relationships. You can meet someone in your 60’s and have the love of your lifetime. Why not? So why not focus on getting your life in order first and then worrying about relationships until later.

Like it or not, the more you have your shit together the better chance you have at meeting quality people that also have their shit together. Happy successful people are looking for happy successful people and can afford to be picky. I hate to say it but I definitely learned that through personal experience.

They don’t want your broke ass or your issues. Get to that level and then look for someone. Get your house in order before you invite someone into your house.

Do anything but stay in a crappy relationship. Ok, try to do something productive that is going to benefit your life, but even binge-watching Game of Thrones is infinitely better than kicking it with someone that doesn’t value or respect you. In fact, you could probably pick up some relationship pointers from the Lannisters, like love them and leave them, or kill them. Metaphorically, of course.

Photo by Anthony Tori on Unsplash

Conclusion

They say quitters never win. But they say a lot of stuff that isn’t true. My whole life since I turned 40 has been an unlearning of everything I learned or thought I knew until that point. And I’m telling you without any hesitation whatsoever that sometimes quitting a relationship is the best option or even the only healthy option.

If you are in a relationship you have an obligation to give your best effort to make it work, but if you can honestly say that you’ve done that and you’ve tried to communicate your wants to the other person, and you still aren’t getting what you want then absolutely quit that relationship and don’t ever look back. No matter how long you’ve been with them. No matter who they are. No matter what.

“You create more space in your life when you turn your excess baggage to garbage.” 
― Chinonye J. Chidolue

CALL TO ACTION

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